Naturally occurring ω‐Hydroxyacids
ω‐Hydroxyacids are fatty acids bearing a hydroxyl group on the terminal carbon. They are found in mammals and higher plants and are often involved in providing a permeability barrier, the primary purpose of which is to reduce water loss. Some ω‐hydroxyacid derivatives may be involved in waterproofing and signalling. The purpose of this review was to survey the known natural sources of ω‐hydroxyacids. ω‐Hydroxyacids are produced by two different P450‐dependent mechanisms. The longer (30–34 carbons) ω‐hydroxyacids are produced by chain extension from palmitic acid until the chain extends across the membrane in which the extension is taking place, and then the terminal carbon is hydroxylated. Shorter fatty acids can be hydroxylated directly to produce C16 and C18 ω‐hydroxyacids found in plants and 20‐eicosatetraenoic acid (20‐HETE) by a different P450. The C16 and C18 ω‐hydroxyacids are components of polymers in plants. The long‐chain ω‐hydroxyacids are found in epidermal sphingolipids, in giant‐ring lactones from the sebum of members of the equidae, as a component of meibum and in carnauba wax and wool wax.
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